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Misleading errors: “Server is configured for Windows authentication only.” But it’s not!

In general, the errors SQL gives are highly useful. Of course every now and again you get one that’s just confounding. The other day I saw the following error in the log:

Login failed for user ”. Reason: An attempt to login using SQL authentication failed. Server is configured for Windows authentication only. [CLIENT: ]

This one confused me for a couple of reasons. First, the user ”. Why an empty user? That’s not really helpful. And second Server is configured for Windows authentication only.

So what the heck is going on? After a bit of searching I found the answer here.

The pertinent quote is this:

Bottom line, the application is trying to connect using Windows authentication, but using a blank/null username and password.

And I was able to reproduce the error just like the OP by using an ODBC connection with no user specified.

It seems that a blank username confused SQL as much as the error confused me.

Aren’t confusing errors fun?

SQLStudies

My name is Kenneth Fisher and I am Senior DBA for a large (multi-national) insurance company. I have been working with databases for over 20 years starting with Clarion and Foxpro. I’ve been working with SQL Server for 12 years but have only really started “studying” the subject for the last 3. I don’t have any real "specialities" but I enjoy trouble shooting and teaching. Thus far I’ve earned by MCITP Database Administrator 2008, MCTS Database Administrator 2005, and MCTS Database Developer 2008. I’m currently studying for my MCITP Database Developer 2008 and should start in on the 2012 exams next year. My blog is at www.sqlstudies.com.

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